It is important that if you have an abscess in the teeth or gums, it is treated by a dental professional quickly. Otherwise, the underlying infection can result in gum disease, tooth damage, blood infections or jaw damage. If your dentist has failed to spot or treat an abscess, they could be deemed negligent and, therefore, you could claim compensation for any suffering caused. This guide on dental abscess claims will look at the types of dental negligence that could mean you’re eligible to claim compensation.
As well as the information in this guide, we offer no-obligation legal advice as part of our free consultation. If you call our advice centre, a specialist will review your case with you and work out what options you have. If they suspect that you should be compensated, you’ll be referred to a medical negligence solicitor on our team. To reduce the financial risk of taking on legal representation, they provide a No Win No Fee service for any dental abscess claims they accept.
Please read on to find out more about dental abscess compensation claims or call our team on 0800 6524 881 if you have any questions.
Table of contents
- What Is A Dental Abscess?
- Am I Eligible To Make A Dental Abscess Compensation Claim?
- Common Causes Of Dental Abscess Claims
- Evidence To Support A Dental Abscess Compensation Claim
- How Much Compensation For A Dental Abscess Could I Claim?
- Time Limits For Claiming Dental Abscess Compensation
- Starting The Dental Abscess Compensation Claims Process
A dental abscess is an extremely painful infection under the surface of the gums which tends to target teeth roots and the surrounding area. In the early stages of a dental abscess, relatively minor degrees of tooth decay enables bacteria to get under the tooth and into the roots. Over time bacteria can cause infection which is often highly visible in the form of putrid pus. If the situation goes untreated then it can potentially infect and gradually rot away surrounding soft tissue. This can then lead to other significant health issues some of which may leave a long-term impact.
If a dental abscess is diagnosed early enough it is simply a case of draining the fluid from the infected area, injecting antibiotics and repairing any surrounding tooth decay. As the majority of dental patients will at some point have x-rays to check for varying degrees of dental erosion, even early-stage abscesses should show up. If your dentist has inadvertently missed the emergence of an early-stage or even late-stage dental abscess which has gone on to cause significant pain and additional health issues then you may be eligible to make a dental abscess claim.
Even in the relatively early stages of a dental abscess, chewing on a tooth with an abscess can lead to excruciating pain. There are a number of symptoms that arise when an abscess is beginning to form which include:
- Putrid taste in the mouth.
- Throbbing/shooting pains in the infected area.
- Swollen gums.
- Pus leakage from the gum area.
- Excruciating pain when eating in certain areas of your mouth.
- Swollen neck glands.
- Swollen jaw.
An undiagnosed abscess can lead to an array of health issues such as:
- Extraction of multiple teeth.
- Erosion of soft tissue.
- Deformation of the jawbone.
- Infections spreading to other areas of the body.
- Numbness when the nerve endings have been eroded.
- Lack of feeling with extreme abscesses (the tooth roots have died) which can lead to more damage.
The very fact that early-stage abscesses are relatively easy to treat is what for many people makes this situation more frustrating. A simple draining of the infected fluid, antibiotics and sealing of the damaged tooth will kill the infection.
To determine your eligibility to make a dental abscess compensation claim, a solicitor will check:
- If the dentist provided a standard of care that fell below that which you might reasonably expect from a competent dentist (dental negligence); and
- As a direct result of that negligence, you have suffered in some way (causation).
So, the fact that you’ve been diagnosed with a dental abscess is not enough on its own to make a compensation claim. Instead, you must be able to prove that you’ve suffered as a result of dental negligence i.e. you had avoidable toothache, you lost a tooth or you needed a root canal.
Your dentist and any medical professionals who treat your teeth have a legal duty of care to provide a minimum standard of care. Failure to do so could be deemed dental negligence and could result in a compensation claim for any subsequent dental health problems.
Examples of dental negligence relating to abscesses include:
- Failure to spot or diagnose an abscess during regular checkups.
- Failure to treat minor tooth damage that leads to an abscess.
- Making mistakes during dental procedures that result in avoidable damage and subsequently an abscess.
- Failure to prescribe antibiotics to treat an infection.
- Mistreatment when draining an abscess which results in further complications.
- If an infection returns because it was not eradicated by the first course of antibiotics.
Please contact our claims advisors if you’d like to discuss making a dental abscess claim with a solicitor from our team.
To support a dental abscess compensation claim, you will need to provide evidence to demonstrate that the dentist breached their duty of care towards you and that this breach caused you harm. This could include:
- Dental records. Your dental records can provide a clear picture of the treatment you received and any complications that arose from it.
- Witness statements. If there were witnesses to the treatment you received for your dental abscess, a statement from them can provide additional evidence to support your dental abscess claim.
- Photographs or video footage. If you have photographs or video footage of your abscess before and after the dentist treated you, this can help to demonstrate any damage or changes caused by the treatment.
- Correspondence. Any correspondence between you and the dentist, including emails, letters, and text messages, can provide evidence of what was said and agreed upon between you and the dentist.
- Medical reports. If you suffered physical or psychological harm as a result of the treatment, you may have medical reports that document your injuries and their impact on your health.
- Financial records. Where you’ve incurred any financial losses as a result of dental negligence, such as the cost of corrective treatment or time off work, you should provide financial records to support your claim.
It’s important to note that every dental abscess claim is unique, and the evidence required will depend on the specific circumstances of your claim.
Dental health is a very important part of an individual’s overall health and any detriment can be both painful, lead to protracted treatment and in some circumstances lead to long-term disfigurement. Therefore, the amount of compensation for a dental abscess you could claim will depend largely on how much physical and mental pain you’ve suffered (general damages) and any associated costs (special damages).
There are different levels of compensation available for general damage to teeth when calculating a compensation settlement. The current compensation guidelines for damaged teeth are as follows:
- Relatively minor damage to the back teeth can lead to compensation of between £1,090 – £1,710 per damaged tooth.
- Loss or serious damage to a front tooth sees compensation of between £2,200 – £3,950.
- Damage to 2 front teeth is more serious with compensation from £4,350 – £7,630 available depending upon the severity of the damage.
- Loss or serious damage to several front teeth often leads to compensation from £8,730 – £11,410.
- Significant long-term damage and excruciating pain can lead to compensation awards as high as £38,130.
To work out the amount you could receive as general damages for a dental abscess, your solicitor may need to refer your case to a third-party specialist. Their report will explain the level of suffering you’ve endured and be used to work out how much compensation you might be entitled to. This report would cover both physical and psychological suffering (distress, anxiety etc).
Remember that these figures are for guidance only. Your solicitor will be able to offer a more personalised compensation estimate after your claim has been reviewed properly.
For any type of dental negligence claim, a 3-year time limit will apply. Generally, this limitation period will begin from when your abscess was diagnosed. One exception to this rule is if your child has been affected by a dental abscess. As their time limit doesn’t begin until they are an adult, you could seek damages for them at any point before they turn 18 years old.
There are a few good reasons to start your claim as soon as possible. Firstly, starting early should mean your claim doesn’t become statute-barred. Secondly, you could be awarded interim payments to cover the cost of private remedial dental treatment if you’re still suffering.
The time it takes for a dental abscess claim to be settled can be as little as 6 to 9 months. However, we will point out that some claims that require more investigation can take over a year.
If you’ve suffered avoidable pain because of a dental abscess due to a negligent dentist, you can call us on 0800 6524 881 for a no-obligation consultation. One of our specially trained advisors will find out what happened and provide free legal advice about your chances of being awarded compensation.
If your claim appears to have strong enough grounds, one of our team of No Win No Fee solicitors may agree to help. If they do, your claim will be funded by a No Win No Fee agreement meaning you’ll only pay legal fees if you receive compensation.
You can also discuss making a dental abscess claim using our free live chat service so please connect when you’re ready.